PDA

View Full Version : Space Control



sarongsong
2003-Jun-11, 04:24 AM
"According to James Roche, the US Air Force Secretary, America's allies would have "no veto power" over projects designed to achieve American military control of space...The key theme of the ambitious plans is described as "negation" - the denial of the use of space for military intelligence, or other purposes, without American endorsement."
http://makeashorterlink.com/?I53C342E4
Treaties? What treaties?

Dickenmeyer
2003-Jun-11, 04:31 AM
You don't need a treaty if you've got the high ground. As long as you can keep it...

Argos
2003-Jun-11, 01:02 PM
"According to James Roche, the US Air Force Secretary, America's allies would have "no veto power" over projects designed to achieve American military control of space...The key theme of the ambitious plans is described as "negation" - the denial of the use of space for military intelligence, or other purposes, without American endorsement."
http://makeashorterlink.com/?I53C342E4
Treaties? What treaties?

Beware of the dream of Icarus...

Cooperation is the only way. By no means a single nation could claim control of space. It is simply an illusion. We all know the difficulties (technological and political) involved in such enterprise. By the time technology allows it, there will be many nations apt to claim the same thing.

And, hey, are we forggeting all the principles of the Republic? Will the planet Earth be divided into Jedis and Imperials? I hope the American people, leader in the human quest for liberty, never endorse the dreams of certain mad dogs at Washington.

Suddenly we turned to talk about imoral things in a family forum. Gosh!

Pi Man
2003-Jun-11, 03:06 PM
I don't know. There are net sites claiming to sell anybody who is willing to buy it, property on the moon by the square yard. So, at least the moon will be owned privately. :lol: :lol: :lol: :P

Glom
2003-Jun-11, 03:45 PM
You have to wonder what they think they're going to accomplish with this.

Stuart
2003-Jun-11, 03:55 PM
You have to wonder what they think they're going to accomplish with this.
Accomplish? There's a wide range of things that are being done. For example, virtually every financial transaction that takes place in the USA goes through space at one point or another. Use a credit card to buy groceries in a supermarket and the transaction goes via satellite. Without satellites, the US civil economy ceases to function. There was a good TV show some time ago (now cancelled) called Dark Angel that postulated exactly that; a LEO nudet had taken out the satellite systems and sent the world economy into an irrecoverable tailspin. Now, a space-based nudet is very easy to achieve and its an interesting question if it would be considered a hostile act (suppose it was over one's own territory.....)

Virtually every military communication system runs via satellite and space-based resources are essential for recon, threat alerts, weapons targeting, navigation and a host of other things. So its pretty futile to complain about the militarization of space or demand that space be demilitarized. Space is already thoroughly militarized and space-based activities are so deeply entrenched in force structures today that they cannot be removed from those structures.

Once we accept that we cannot survive as a society (either the civilian or a military components) without space activities, we're stuck with defending them. Defending them automatically means creating the ability to take out things that threaten them. Since defense is a (some would say the) national priority, naturally we don't allow other countries a veto over how we do it. We don't give them veto powers over how we design our ships or operate our tanks, why give them veto rights over how we defend our military and civilian infrastructure?

SollyLama
2003-Jun-11, 04:22 PM
What they want to accomplish is obvious- a monopoly on space. There are several darn good reasons (from a military POV) to control space, and a few logistical ones- such as space debris and litter taking out birds that are key to US infrastructure- but very few moral ones.
Militarily it always makes sense to deny an enemy a vector you have. Our dominance of the airspace over Iraq is a good example. From that POV, it's a no-brainer to deny space to others.
Considering there is no effective defense against space based weaponry, I understand the US's desire to limit not how many folks have access to space, but WHO has that access. This happens all the time on the ground; many countries are banned from say- heavy water nuclear reactors. A similar ban on space use may be a logical extension of that type of ban.
Safety of those on the ground is also a concern. The US spends alot of money to keep firing things into space safe and even they fail occasionally. The world doesn't need some cut rate budget outfit in some backwater country firing things off. Alot of satellites contain radioactive materials and batteries that we'd just as soon see NOT explode over the US. And imagine the political nightmare if say, a Syrian booster rocket satellite 'accidentally' exploded over Israel causing casualties.
These are all the kinds of concerns our government has to consider.
And of course there is the matter of them littering space with debris that can destroy a multi-billion dollar US satellite. Every US space patron, both military and industry has a vested interest in keeping space litter down to a minimum.
There also has to be some organization to space travel/use. Just airspace deconfliction alone for the airlines across international borders can and has caused tragedy. Add a few thousand MPH to the equation and the deconliction process gets even more intense. This may not be much of a problem right now, but we have to look ahead to the future as well. Low Earth Orbit fender benders are not an option.

Glom
2003-Jun-11, 04:49 PM
Military control is the key aspect. Use of satellites in military activities doesn't sound much like military control of space and merely military use of space. Use of satellites for grocery shopping hardly seems like it comes under the subject of 'military control' of sapce.

Syria couldn't use that excuse. If a rocket they launched was to detonate over Israel, it would mean the rocket was launched retrograde, which doesn't make a lot of sense. That's the advantage of US launch sites, the rocket either spends its burn time over American land or over international waters.

Stuart
2003-Jun-11, 05:04 PM
Military control is the key aspect. Use of satellites in military activities doesn't sound much like military control of space and merely military use of space. Use of satellites for grocery shopping hardly seems like it comes under the subject of 'military control' of space.
The point is that the grocery-shopping satellites are a primary strategic target for mal-intentioned people. In fact, its arguable that an aggressor could do more harm to the US by initiating a nuclear device in LEO than by doing so on US territory. So while using the satellites for grocery shopping isn't a military control issue, defending the satellites that are used for grocery shopping is. Especially since those same grocery shopping satellites carry virtually every other financial transaction in the USA. That brings us to another problem; the most deadly strategic weapon the US has is its economic and industrial power - for which satellite facilities are also essential. So it could quite seriously be argued that a blow against the industrial and economic power of the US is an act of war - its long been the case that its impossible to tell where civilian ends and military begins in national strategic terms. The upshoot of all that is that the services offered by satellites to the civilian sector are a direct and immediate concern to the defense sector. Defending your grocery purchase is a national priority.


Syria couldn't use that excuse. If a rocket they launched was to detonate over Israel, it would mean the rocket was launched retrograde, which doesn't make a lot of sense. That's the advantage of US launch sites, the rocket either spends its burn time over American land or over international waters.
How about if they fired from Libya? But, more seriously, suppose, say, the Iranians, lofted a nuclear device wrapped in [something] over their own territory and initiated it? It would fry every satellite in LEO and may not even be anything that could be described as an act of war yet the economic damage to the USA would be crippling. They wouldn't be harmed as much because they are not so computer and satellite dependent.

Glom
2003-Jun-11, 05:11 PM
Are these communications satellites in LEO? Most of them are in geostationary orbit, aren't they?

Emspak
2003-Jun-11, 05:24 PM
People--

I would disagree that satellite systems are absolutely necessary for the funtioning of the world economy -- while satellite communications play a large role, it is by no means that large. Most financial transactions-- at least if your bank is in the same country -- go via fiber links. Long distance phone calls go by satellite sometimes, but from the UK to the US it is via the cables that Global Crossing used to sell time on (before they went bankrupt, but that is another story). Cable & Wireless, AT&T and others have similar facilities. After all, the economy keeps humming right along when a solar flare blanks out the satellite communications for a while on a regular basis.

That said, I think it would be quite impossible for ANY military to deny control of space -- whatever that means -- to anyone else. Outside of shooting down rockets as they are launched, once a country or company has the money, there is little anyone can do to stop them from putting up as many satellites as they like. Most nations do not do this because launching a communications satellite starts at $100 million or more. To give an example, launching the Iridium network cost $6 billion -- and that was using relatively cheap technology. Military satellites are even pricier. To use an example in this thread, the Syrians might be able to afford the odd TV satellite, but that's about it. As for rockets, they have missiles of various ranges already, just like all their neighbors.

There are issues with the orbital slots satellites use, but that is why there are a number of international agreements regulating who puts what up where. The rest is determined by the laws of physics -- how stable the orbit is and what plane it is in.

If the US wanted to deny space access to the rest of the world, good luck with it -- but I won't hold my breath waiting for the announcement of the conquest of space. Fact is, a satellite in LEO can be brought down with a booster only slightly larger than that on the average nuclear missile. Launch a missile in a ballistic trajectory with the apex at the same altitude as the satellite and time it right and whammo -- no more satellite (most satellites cannot move very much under their own power). Even easier is to stick a nuke on top of a LEO booster, fly it in the general vicinity of a satellite and blow it up. The electromagnetic pulse alone will fry every circuit board on satellites within hundreds of miles. The only reason this has not been tried yet is the countries with the money have had no reason to do it, since there are no real space-based weapon systems. (There is a ban on nuclear weapons in space as well, but such things have a mixed record in wartime). The price tag puts this out of the reach of almost any terrorist group you could name, besides the need for lauch facilities.

So I wouldn't worry about "militarization" -- as one poster said, that's happened alerady, but I would add that no country can get an advantage by it, any more than by "militarization" of the oceans.

My two cents worth
Emspak

Stuart
2003-Jun-11, 05:29 PM
Are these communications satellites in LEO? Most of them are in geostationary orbit, aren't they?
I'd have to check where each type is but they're in LEO, MEO, HEO and Geo. My point is that their impact is so all-pervasive and the consequences of their loss are so great that defending the satellite links becomes a national priority.

Stuart
2003-Jun-11, 05:59 PM
I would disagree that satellite systems are absolutely necessary for the funtioning of the world economy -- while satellite communications play a large role, it is by no means that large. Most financial transactions-- at least if your bank is in the same country -- go via fiber links. Long distance phone calls go by satellite sometimes, but from the UK to the US it is via the cables that Global Crossing used to sell time on (before they went bankrupt, but that is another story). Cable & Wireless, AT&T and others have similar facilities. After all, the economy keeps humming right along when a solar flare blanks out the satellite communications for a while on a regular basis.
You are probably correct for the rest of the world but the US really is heavily dependent upon satellite links - I wasn't exagerating when I said virtually every major store credit card sale goes via a satellite link. Thats why they have dishes on their roof. The US is peculiarly vulnerable to attacks on its satellite links; to the point where an attacker might well consider the cost of destroying the satellite system completely as being worth the damage. This vulnerability was identified in the early 1990s and had gotten steadily worse since then.

While a lot of the civilian and strategic military comms go via landline; military operational and tactical go by satellite - so do the strategic links to (for example) deployed ships. GPS as a navigational and targeting aid is equally vital.

You are perfectly correct in stating how easy it would be for a TPLD to put a device on the end of a rocket (needn't be an ICBM; a souped-up SCUD will do it; the first ASAT used the Thor IRBM),. Fortunately that threat has been recognized and we are doing something about it (called the YAL-1A). We can't prevent access to the space environment but we can make it very hard and expensive for somebody to get past the defenses.

And yes, the system does keep running if solar flares take a part down for a short period; it won't i we lose all of it permanently

poorleno
2003-Jun-11, 06:06 PM
This kind of American attitude makes me sick. I can't believe what Iím reading here. Does US want to limit other nations access to space? Is this a joke? You can't honestly believe that any self-respecting country (Russia, China, etc) would accept this nonsense, can you?
From my completely unbiased outlook, I see US as the bully of the modern world. Even though this forum isn't for political debate, I must say that Iím shocked that someone in US might even consider such act!

:evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Archer17
2003-Jun-11, 06:07 PM
I'm against any policy that promotes militarism of space but, until such time as this planet gets it's act together, it's inevitable. The US might have the high ground now but there are countries like China and India that will be able to join the US in space-based military applications in the decades ahead. I think the Israelis already launched a military satellite and don't rule out the Russians. I know their economy is currently in shambles, but they have the means and the track record. Bottom line, unless there is some kind of verifiable and enforceble means to prevent the introduction of military hardware into space, it will happen .. whether the US takes part or not. For these reasons I can't denounce the US for thinking in terms of preserving it's space-based military superiority, I just think it's not very realistic in the long term. I mean, if you're willing to risk war to down a Chinese satellite or orbital platform, why not just take out the launch facilities on the ground?

Glom
2003-Jun-11, 07:38 PM
poorleno, let's not get too personal about the nation of most of the members of this board. I'm sure that a lot of people agree that any attempted conquest of orbital space is unacceptable. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty clearly states that appropriation of territory in space is clearly prohibited and if the attention of the right wing government is to control Earth orbital space, that is undeniably appropriation and therefore in violation of international law, for whatever that's worth these days.

BigJim
2003-Jun-11, 08:01 PM
Reminiscent of this thread. (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4609)

Archer17
2003-Jun-11, 08:11 PM
I would've addressed this earlier but I wanted to remain 'in topic.' As a US citizen I wasn't insulted by poorleno's post, I think his rant was against this administration's perceived polices, not the population in general. All US presidents are "temps" so it's not worth the rise in blood pressure. Putting the article in the OP in context, one has to remember the source, which is the USAF Secretary. He's military. Military people the world over are payed to think in terms of "military superiority" .. it's their cup of tea.

Emspak
2003-Jun-11, 09:59 PM
In response to Stuart's post, I agree that satellite links are vulnerable, in theory. But the US, to use one example, is vulnerable in theory to invasion. However, no country has attempted (so far) it becuase sending troops to San Fran from China is darned expensive. Nobody else has the money. (Think of the cost of fuel, a boat, defending the boat, et cetera et cetera).

A similar argument applies to satellites. Defending satellites is not really feasible -- there are plenty of ways to destroy every satellite in a given orbit that no weapon could conceivably stop. For example, I launch an ICBM full of nails, or nuts, or just metal debris from the local junkyard. Blow it up once it reaches orbit. If the cloud of debris is nice and large, any satellite in that orbital "torus" will be shredded to bits. No way to stop it, either.

That said, the reason this is a silly scenario (at least right now) is what I said before -- while such a tactic would be within the reach of the US, Russia, France and China, (maybe Japan and Germany too) nobody else has the money. Since there is currently no reason for anyone to be blowing up satellites -- there are no space-based nuclear weapons, or orbiting laser beams aimed at cities -- such weapons never get deployed. This could change, but for now that is the situation.

So for the US, the first question is "defend satellites from what?" The next is to ask "Just how do you propose to limit access to space when anyone witht he cash can do it, and you can't shoot down every rocket launched?" (Well you theoretically could, but starting wars with allies is politically difficult at best, and even if George W. were to have a brain aneurism I can not imagine him being that stupid).

As for dependence on satellite links, I stand by what I said -- if GPS were to disappear few of us would notice. Those of us sports fans would be a bit miffed if DirectTV went out. :-? But even the military has plenty of good old-fashioned radio links available (after all, they communicated fine in the 1950s, before satellites existed). Credit transactions would go back to using the little slips they use when the system goes down right now. After all, PanAmSat's bird went wacky and shut down back in 1999, and that covered all of North America. Anyone notice? Thought not.

The point I was making is that a lot of proposals for putting weapons in space are at best a waste of money, to deal with either nonexistent threats or pour loads of money into various congressmen's pet projects, and justify insanely huge military budgets.

Stuart
2003-Jun-12, 01:43 PM
A similar argument applies to satellites. Defending satellites is not really feasible -- there are plenty of ways to destroy every satellite in a given orbit that no weapon could conceivably stop. For example, I launch an ICBM full of nails, or nuts, or just metal debris from the local junkyard. Blow it up once it reaches orbit. If the cloud of debris is nice and large, any satellite in that orbital "torus" will be shredded to bits. No way to stop it, either.

Actually, that particular threat has already been envisaged. Countering it is one of the roles of the YAL-1A; just blow the missile as it is launched - even better the wreckage falls back on the people who launched it.


That said, the reason this is a silly scenario (at least right now) is what I said before -- while such a tactic would be within the reach of the US, Russia, France and China, (maybe Japan and Germany too) nobody else has the money. Since there is currently no reason for anyone to be blowing up satellites -- there are no space-based nuclear weapons, or orbiting laser beams aimed at cities -- such weapons never get deployed. This could change, but for now that is the situation.
The fault here is the presumption that the threat against space activities is predicated upon the availability of space-based weaponry. This is an example of an old and long-discredited fallacy called "action-reaction theory". Action-reaction envisaged the world dynamic as being a series of actions then reactions to those actions then further reactions etc. Proponents of this theory then held that if a given reaction was undesirable, it could be prevented by not taking the action than caused it. The fallacy in action-reaction is that it simply doesn't happen. Actions are undertaken in response to a driving logic of their own, not as responses to what other people are doing. ASAT is a good example; both the USSR and the USA deployed ASAT weapons in the 1960s and scrapped them in the 1970s. The reason why they were deployed was that each thought it could gain a significant advantage by doing so in the 1960s but by the 1970s realized that the technology they had adopted to achieve the desired result (nuclear devices on top of IRBMs) would eliminate everybody's satellites and the potential cost outweighed the benefits.


So for the US, the first question is "defend satellites from what?" The next is to ask "Just how do you propose to limit access to space when anyone witht he cash can do it, and you can't shoot down every rocket launched?" (Well you theoretically could, but starting wars with allies is politically difficult at best, and even if George W. were to have a brain aneurism I can not imagine him being that stupid).
This again is a non-comment. We don't need to shoot down every rocket that gets launched; just the ones that represent a threat. And we're developing the equipment to do just that.


As for dependence on satellite links, I stand by what I said -- if GPS were to disappear few of us would notice. Those of us sports fans would be a bit miffed if DirectTV went out.
And you're still wrong. You don't notice GPS because its usually embedded in other systems but its extensively used in emergency response systems, security systems like On-star, navigation systems for road and boat use, distress systems built into things like cell-phones etc etc. If GPS goes, we lose a lot of things that people are now taking for granted.


But even the military has plenty of good old-fashioned radio links available (after all, they communicated fine in the 1950s, before satellites existed).
No, they didn't. Thats why they use satellites so extensively now. To give you some example of how important GPS is to the military, more than 3/4 of the bombs and missiles dropped on Iraq during the recent unpleasantness were GPS guided. ALL armored formations used GPS for navigation and fire control. ALL special forces used GPS for their navigation, target reporting and operational planning, ALL warships used GPS for navigation. ALL logistics was done using operational planning based on GPS data. Without GPS the operational planning of OIF would have been virtually impossible. Satellites offered new dimensions in recon, target discrimination, real-time awareness etc.


Credit transactions would go back to using the little slips they use when the system goes down right now. After all, PanAmSat's bird went wacky and shut down back in 1999, and that covered all of North America. Anyone notice? Thought not.
In a much smaller and simpler economy. And we did notice when the PanAmSat bird went down - noticed bigtime. The impact on business was noticable and the correlation between the reductions in trade and the outage were perfect.


The point I was making is that a lot of proposals for putting weapons in space are at best a waste of money, to deal with either nonexistent threats or pour loads of money into various congressmen's pet projects
Its a very bad point that cannot possibly be justified. The threats are real and do exist. A potential agressor has much to gain and - in some cases - very little to lose by taking down the satellite network on which the US relies. Operationally, to do so would result in a very severe impact on the ability of the US military to fight a war. Strategically it would do that and have the potential to inflict serious economic damage on the USA. In fact, it could well be that is the only option they would have to inflict serious damage on the USA.


and justify insanely huge military budgets.
That is utter nonsense. As a matter of pure fact, the US defense budget is badly stretched already and needs a series of additional increases to correct some of the deficiencies of the last eight years. We've got a carrier being refitted at the moment thats costing us some US$350 million simply to repair defects that should have been addressed ten years ago. Far from being "insanely huge" the US defense budget actually is too small to accommodate the demands made by US worldwide interests. We need more carriers, more aircraft for them, more strategic airlift and a plethora of other things, The fact that money is being diverted into requirements relating to space activities shows the degree of concern that people have over the issue, When the USAF buys systems to defend the satellite system in preference to fighters, you can be very sure the reason for that allocation is compelling.

sarongsong
2003-Jun-12, 02:49 PM
"...the US defense budget actually is too small to accommodate the demands made by US worldwide interests..."
You mean US offense, right?

Stuart
2003-Jun-12, 03:22 PM
"...the US defense budget actually is too small to accommodate the demands made by US worldwide interests..."
You mean US offense, right?\

No.

The way the US defense budget is formulated is that the US Government does a defense review every few years (usually every four hence the name "Quadrennial Defense Review". ) The purpose of this is to identify the worldwide interests of the United States and estimate the force levels that are required by those political interests. This exercise has only a very limited relationship to what other countries spend on defense or what their budget systems are. The US defense budget is then set to support the force structure required to maintain the worldwide national interests as specified by the Quadrennial Defense Review.

As a simple example; the Quadrennial Defense Review lays down that US interests in assorted parts of the world require the deployment of a specified number of aircraft carriers. How many? The Quadrennial Defense Review works on a Two Regional Conflict Basis; that is the US has to have the forces available to fight two regional conflicts at once. The demand is that we have adequate forces to win one decisively and the other expeditiously, the difference being that we can thus swing forces from one to the other. To win a conflict decisively is deemed to require five aircraft carriers; two win expeditiously needs three. Therefore we need eight deployable carriers. However, the next question is how many carriers do we need to deploy eight? That needs careful analysis of things like refit patterns, deployment schedules, speed etc. One thing that comes out of that is that nuclear-powered carriers have a huge advantage over oil-fired ones. To fulfil the requirements laid down by the Quadrennial Defense Review of having eight deployable carriers, we need either 15 nuclear-powered CVNs or 24 oil-fired CVs. In fact, we have 9 CVNs and 3 CVs.

Its pretty much the same across the board; the eight years of run-down in the 1990s left the US forces in a very force-limited position. The operation in Afghanistan left the bomb dumps virtually empty; one of the primary reasons for the 18 month delay between the Afghan Campaign and the Iraqi Campaign was the need to run production of precision-guided munitions at a high enough level to fill up the ordnance requirements. Thats been more or less done now; Iraq didn't empty the bomb dumps the way Afghanistan did.

Space warfare and missile defense worked the same way. The Quadrennial Defense Review laid down specific requirements for the US defense forces that reflected their perceptions of US interests, strengths and vulnerabilities. It was deemed that our capability in space was an essential national asset that was a major force multiplier. Equally, it also represented a major national vulnerability that had to be shielded. That played into a few other things that we needn't (and can't) go into here. The description of how much damage could be done to the US economy by an attack on the space infrastructure wasn't guesswork; it came straight out of the Quadrennial Defense Review. Fortunately much of the technology needed has already been developed and some of it is in operational testing now. Once the YAL-1A enters service we'll have the ability to knock orbit bound missiles out of the sky at [technically fascinating] ranges. The idea is we can make attacking satellites in orbit so expensive and technically uncertain that nobody will try and do it - so we defend everybody's satellites as well as our own. At the moment, anybody with a nuclear device and a relatively low-powered rocket can take out virtually every satellite in LEO and there isn't much anybody can do to stop them. If (for example) a fundamentalist regime decided that the satellite network had to go because it was transmitting impious pictures, if they have a nuclear device and a rocket, the satellite network is gone. Nobody can do anything about it. Thats not acceptable, hence the news article that started this thread.

sarongsong
2003-Jun-13, 03:56 PM
"...The key theme of the ambitious plans is described as "negation" - the denial of the use of space for military intelligence, or other purposes, without American endorsement."---original thread
Well, I think you've done an excellent job of giving us the US military's perspective, Stuart, but I doubt the US would stand still for another country, China, for instance, practising "negation" on them.

JustAGuy
2003-Jun-13, 04:41 PM
Militarizing space is dangerous, if only from one perspective: removing a fleet of orbiters is fairly easy to do. Just flood as many LEO slots as you can with random debris (which, as it turns out, is pretty easy to make). Anything orbiting there will be torn to shreds and produce even more debris.

Seems all fine and dandy until, once the war is over, you decide to send *anything* into space, and watch it disolve. That's when you realize that you've basically closed the door on your own planet-tomb.

Archer17
2003-Jun-13, 05:04 PM
"...The key theme of the ambitious plans is described as "negation" - the denial of the use of space for military intelligence, or other purposes, without American endorsement."---original thread
Well, I think you've done an excellent job of giving us the US military's perspective, Stuart, but I doubt the US would stand still for another country, China, for instance, practising "negation" on them.I think too much is being read into this British newspaper article. As mentioned before, the USAF Secretary is military and is expected to think in terms of "negation." In the event of war, neutralizing the enemy's "eye in the sky" would actually be a prudent move, but only in war. The thought of the United States or any other country for that matter "dictating" what is to be put in orbit by another is not something that would go over well in this country and isn't even an issue here in the States. I don't question the accuracy of what the Telegraph quoted, but I question the way the story was presented. The Pentagon doesn't run things here, we have checks-and-balances against that sort of thing. Administrations change, as do policies. Am I the only one that thinks the motivation for creating this thread is more political than astronomical?

Stuart
2003-Jun-13, 05:09 PM
"...The key theme of the ambitious plans is described as "negation" - the denial of the use of space for military intelligence, or other purposes, without American endorsement."---original thread
Well, I think you've done an excellent job of giving us the US military's perspective, Stuart, but I doubt the US would stand still for another country, China, for instance, practising "negation" on them.

Thanks. I do my best. What I'm really getting at is that these issues are very much more complex than they appear at first sight and they play into eachother in very unexpected ways. This is particularly the case in anything to do with nuclear planning where the factors involved are so immensely complex that its a major job (read very expensive job) to answer even relatively simple questions. My Mentor in these things used to say "The First Answer Is Always Wrong"

As to what China does, thats obviously an issue for China to decide - countries do what is in their national interest. However, I would point out that the possibility the Chinese may decide a negation capability is in their national interest (and certainly in their national capability) is a good reasonw hy the US should be considering defensive measures for its satellite net.

Stuart
2003-Jun-13, 05:26 PM
I think too much is being read into this British newspaper article. As mentioned before, the USAF Secretary is military and is expected to think in terms of "negation." (snip) The Pentagon doesn't run things here, we have checks-and-balances against that sort of thing. Administrations change, as do policies. Am I the only one that thinks the motivation for creating this thread is more political than astronomical?
Very much so; the current position is that we are moving towards systems for the defense of our satellite net (and, by implication most of the existing net despite who owns it) and a capability to knock down systems that represent a clear and present danger to the US. Naturally, we are not going to allow another nation to have a veto over what we do or how we do it. That was one of the primary reasons for OIF; it was a demonstration (and a long overdue one) that we were not going to allow the UN or anybody else to have veto powers over our national policy decisions.

That is actually a pretty restricted mission profile. It most certainly doesn't mean that we're going to be approving/rejecting every attempt to launch a satellite no matter who or where. Or shooting down the ones we don;t like. It does mean simply what it says - we'll defend our own assets when necessary with the necessary actions as required. Nothing very new there. Been a fundament of national police since the Peace of Magdeburg.

Emspak
2003-Jun-13, 06:33 PM
Stuart--

I think we may be talking about a couple of different things here, but let me know if I can tease this out.

http://oregonstate.edu/Dept/pol_sci/fac/sahr/defn.htm

is a good site that shows defense outlays in both percentage and real-dollar terms. One thing that comes out is that budgets have remained pretty constant since the Reagan years -- there has been some slower growth. More importantly, when I was talking about "insanely huge" I mean in the sense that the US spends more than any other nation in the world and beats out several big powers combined. That's a little wild, in my opinion. Interestingly, the amount is less as a function of the economy - you would be quite right in saying that the net cost is probably less in percentage terms because the economy and the budgets are much larger than in say, 1940.

Now, as to justifying that expense, the DOD makes its assessments based on a variety of assumptions. I would disagree about a lot of them, not on the grounds of what is technically feasible, but on why you make said assumptions in the first place. I should point out that big, grandiose strategies that require new technologies tend to be a rarity in warfare. I mean, in bad James Bond movies there is a secret base of Dr. Klong who is going to knock out the US financial system with some elaborate plan, but in the real world guys like that tend to just send someone with a nail bomb to the stock exchange (the IRA did a variation on that one some years back). Most countries content themselves with just bombing each other and shooting each other with rifles. After all, it's cheaper. And even in Iraq, with all the new technology deployed, the basic strategy was pretty similar to what we did the the Germans. (Bomb them a lot, destroy industry, move troops in. Simple, but it works).

So, I am saying that I disagree, for instance, with the need to fight two wars anywhere in the world because I don't think realistically that there are many countries that are a direct threat, and I think the projection of force that way digs us into a deeper hole because it tends not to win friends and influence people, because nobody like to be intimidated. Whether that philosophy is right as a policy matter is another discussion. I think that while certain threats are theoretically there, realistically there are others that are more pressing.

However, you are quite right that given a certain set of criteria, the DOD will say "this is what we need to do X as outlined in part by you politicians." This adds up to whatever dollar amount, and is constrained by budgets and whatnot. I do think that like any other institution in government, the DOD tries to get what budget dollars it can, and if it meant saying the Russians were 12 feet tall during the cold war then you do that. That's politics in the big city, and no agency is immune.

Now, on the issue of satellite defense, I tend to not believe in purely technical solutions like the one you describe because while I don't think anyone else has the cash to attack it yet, eventually someone will. Satellite defense systems do not appear overnight and even if you kept the launches secret (how, I wonder?) anyone with binoculars, a pencil, paper and a published satellite ephemeris could tease out, eventually, which ones are spy satellites or other military hardware and which are comms and the like. Since the laws of physics are the same for everyone, and the basic technology is no secret -- I mean, nobody's invented teleporting bombs or Star Trek photon torpedoes yet-- eventually somebody will have similar technology and launch it, and we are all back at square one. (The engineering details are usually classified, but that's why you have researchers and the occasional spook). Therefore, solutions to satellite vulnerability to attack have to be political solutions as well. Hence the treaties regarding things like nuclear weapons in space, and on earth, bans on chemical weapons usage. Not perfect, but I think at least a place to start.

As to the importance of satellites to the economy, I don't deny that they are more important now than before, and that the military especially makes great use of them. But again I bring up the PanAmSat incident -- I had never heard of it until I started covering the telecommunications industry (I am a journalist). And I can't see that in 1999 our economy was that much less complex or large - we haven't had that much growth. Point is, for most people who are not early adopters of technology, GPS isn't that big of a deal yet. As I said, this can change, and is changing, but at present I am not convinced. Even my cell phone has no GPS chips in it, at least according to the manual, and it is a popular model (I got it last year - Nokia 6310i).

As for the military, the systems they use are all designed to be pretty robust, I thought, and even if you don't have your precision guided missile, there's always lobbing a few old-fashioned shells from ten miles off. The technology to hit within a few yards has existed since World War II at least. And like I said before, they may not have had email, but you could still patch through a phone connection from Korea to Washington in the 50s -- at least according to some old guys I met who fought there. (It wasn't good, you had to wait on line for days, and be an officer, but it worked).

So to sum up -- I think that setting up satellite defense is meeting a threat that is not yet that large or realistic (defending them in some way from solar flares is more salient, I think). I am not convinced that deploying any technology that threatens other nations directly is always a good idea, nor do I think it is feasible to assume the US will always and forevermore have a monopoly on the best technology or access to it.

Leadership by example is where, I think, the US has been at its best -- when we expand the rights of citizens without having to have a major civil war, for example (imagine what violence would have happened, for instance, if our federal government had taken a position in favor of segregation in the 50s). Not "I'm bigger and badder than you." which common sense says will get you exactly the reaction you don't want and is hardly very distinctive. But that again, is a whole other discussion.

Stuart
2003-Jun-13, 08:18 PM
This (snip) is a good site that shows defense outlays in both percentage and real-dollar terms. One thing that comes out is that budgets have remained pretty constant since the Reagan years -- there has been some slower growth.
I prefer to work with the original government budget documentation and PEDS. They are much more accurate than secondary sources. I've bene working with that documentation for more than a decade now.


More importantly, when I was talking about "insanely huge" I mean in the sense that the US spends more than any other nation in the world and beats out several big powers combined. That's a little wild, in my opinion.
This is a very common misconception. The US defense budget has nothing to do with that of other countries. At the moment the US is the only global hyper-power with global (and beyond) interests. What other nations spend on their defense structure is completely irrelevent. It is of no discernable consequence. Let me give you a simple example. Lets assume you live in a remote rural area with your wife, six children (twins on the way) and aged grandparents. Its a severe weather zone and the roads are dreadful. As a result, you drive a Ford Excursion. That decision is entirely driven by your requirements and has nothing to do with the fact that once a year you visit your brother who lives in New York and rides a bicycle. US defense expenditure is driven by US defense requirements ; what other nations spend is completely inconsequential.


Now, as to justifying that expense, the DOD makes its assessments based on a variety of assumptions. I would disagree about a lot of them, not on the grounds of what is technically feasible, but on why you make said assumptions in the first place. I should point out that big, grandiose strategies that require new technologies tend to be a rarity in warfare. I mean, in bad James Bond movies there is a secret base of Dr. Klong who is going to knock out the US financial system with some elaborate plan,
In reality, the attack on the World Trade Center was intended to do just that.


And even in Iraq, with all the new technology deployed, the basic strategy was pretty similar to what we did the the Germans. (Bomb them a lot, destroy industry, move troops in. Simple, but it works).
That is utter nonsense. The strategy used in Iraq had nothing to do with that used in Germany or indeed that used in Desert Storm. Not one bomb was deliberately dropped on an industrial target.


So, I am saying that I disagree, for instance, with the need to fight two wars anywhere in the world because I don't think realistically that there are many countries that are a direct threat,
Really? We nearly faced just that. Iraq and North Korea. We still face North Korea and there are several other crisis spots that are looking likely to blow.


and I think the projection of force that way digs us into a deeper hole because it tends not to win friends and influence people, because nobody like to be intimidated.
On the contrary. The effect of overt displays of power is to cause nations to bandwagon with the overt displayer. Its weakness that causes other nations to take undue liberties. History shows that nations side with winners not wimps.


Hence the treaties regarding things like nuclear weapons in space, and on earth, bans on chemical weapons usage. Not perfect, but I think at least a place to start.
No, proven failure. there is not one single case in the whole of human history of a weapons system that has been banned by treaty. Its not a place to start, its a recipe for disaster. - as wepaons control treaties always have been. If you don't like a weapon, the only way to get rid of it is make it obsolete by making it too expensive or too difficult to use. The crossbow wasn't driven from the battlefield by treaty (although it was banned and crossbowmen excommunicated) , it was driven from the battlefield by muskets.


As to the importance of satellites to the economy, I don't deny that they are more important now than before, and that the military especially makes great use of them. But again I bring up the PanAmSat incident -- I had never heard of it until I started covering the telecommunications industry (I am a journalist).
I suppose being a journalist explains a lot. You have my deepest sympathy. However, I happen to know the impact of that situation on business levels - and it was quite distinctive. Thatw as one satellite, now imagine all of them going down. Forever.


GPS isn't that big of a deal yet. As I said, this can change, and is changing, but at present I am not convinced. Even my cell phone has no GPS chips in it, at least according to the manual, and it is a popular model (I got it last year - Nokia 6310i).
Flat contradiction. Yes it is.


As for the military, the systems they use are all designed to be pretty robust, I thought,
You think wrong. They are robust as long as the satellites work. Once the satellites go down, they're dead. I gave you a list of things that we lose; it was far from being inclusive.


and even if you don't have your precision guided missile, there's always lobbing a few old-fashioned shells from ten miles off. The technology to hit within a few yards has existed since World War II at least.
Nonsense. Bombing errors in WW2 were measured in miles - sometimes tens of miles and occasionally in hundreds of miles. It wasn't unknown to hit the wrong country. On one marvellous occasion somebody hit the wrong continent. WW2 used mass toa chieve results. For the assault on Berlin in 1945, the Russians massed 41,500 pieces of artillery and expended more than 20 million shells. Put simply, they flattened the entire city. That was how we fought in WW2. We do NOT want to go back to that way of doing things. Basically it would mean that we wouldn't care how many civilians got killed.


And like I said before, they may not have had email, but you could still patch through a phone connection from Korea to Washington in the 50s -- at least according to some old guys I met who fought there. (It wasn't good, you had to wait on line for days, and be an officer, but it worked).
You haven't a clue have you? I'm sorry if thats rude but you really don't understand what a modern army is or does. We're talking about systems that can bring fire down with precision accuracy on a target within seconds of the message going out. We can have command headquarters watching tactical actions inreal time - and delivering supporting fires in real time. Didn't you watch ANY of the footage coming back from the embedded reporters with the 3ID and Marines. All of that came back via satellite. Yes, you could patch back a communication from Korea to Washington in Korea - now we do it all the time, instantly, without problems. As long as the satellites are up and running. The sort of facility your talking about from Korea is hopelessly obsolete and operationally useless. Its what Saddam Hussein's army had. I'm afraid its painfully obvious that you really have no diea what you are talking about.

The rest of your comments are, to be honest, meaningless nonsense. We don't live in Kumbaya-land, we live in a real world. Living in a real world means we have to accept that world as it is not as some idealized, rose-tinted vision would have it. Once again,. I'm sorry to have to be so blunt about this but, as a journalist, you should know the importance of understandinga subject before you write about it. In this case, you've made it painfully obvious that you do not.

newt
2003-Jun-14, 12:38 AM
Stuart wrote:


The effect of overt displays of power is to cause nations to bandwagon with the overt displayer. Its weakness that causes other nations to take undue liberties. History shows that nations side with winners not wimps.

I generally agree with the overall position Stuart takes in his post, and would like to add a comment, hopefully without detracting from the sentiment therein.

Writers and poets have long expounded 'Utopias' where humans have existed 'side-by-side' in mutually productive and beneficial 'harmony'. Many of us (read: me) have been weaned on this dream as an imperative for the continuance of our species.
It is perhaps only cynicism due to advancing years, but I fear that the
aspirations of the best-intentioned global majority will always be checked by the base self-interest of the few.

The issue in contention seems to me to be between subjugating like-minded well-intentioned cultures, and confidently dissuading those of more self-serving interests by demonstration of resolve and ability to counteract.

IMHO, the greatest societal advances, esp. in terms of quality of life and individual freedoms, have come to "democracies" where privileges and responsibilities are most ably borne by people who know that their backs are covered. It is in these democracies that I believe the above contention will be found to tend towards the latter, on earth or in orbit.

Cheers. Newt.

Emspak
2003-Jun-14, 03:06 AM
Stuart--

Again, I think we are talking past each other a little here.

I was just saying that military budgets are based on a set of assumptions that are based on what the politicians ask for (it is their job) what the military knows it can do (their job is, I would hope to tell political leaders what is realistic) and whatever budgets get approved. This is affected by local politics and all that other stuff that goes with being in a modern society.

Like I said, I disagree with the assumptions, primarily because I don't think there are any countries out there that are going to land a million soldiers in San Fran and take it. Or even lob a nuke at it unless they have all gone completely nuts. Not that it doesn't happen, plenty of leaders out there are pretty off-kilter in a lot of ways. Look at Saudi Arabia -- an Islamic theocracy/monarchy with lots of money. Those guys scare me.

Now one can disagree whether a country that decides it wants to nationalize the oil industry, prevent us from getting access to certain resources, or whatever else is a direct threat -- that is a whole other debate.

As to military strategy, it seems to me that there is a remarkable continuity between "shock and awe" and a massive bombing campaign, and carpet bpmbing cities as was done previously. One is more precise, but it isn't like the use of air power is all that different. You still got to bomb these guys and blow up tanks and whatnot, and you still have to shoot somebody. The old archers in Agincourt mowed down the French with arrows, and that looked remarkably similar to World War I -- different firepower (orders of magnitude greater) and different politics. But darn it, looks to me like the the same thing happens. Guys walk up, get shot down by the dozens every minute. Except in WWI they used trenches to jump out of. Call me ignorant, but that's what it looks like to me. I wasn't saying that the strategies don't change at all, merely that in modern warfare there are some remarkable continuities like that.

As for the World Trade Center, if someone wanted to really shut down the US financial system, they would have been better off flying into the Bank of New York, Chase, and the NYSE. (The BNY and Chase are the only clearers of government debt, which is why the bond markets shut down for so long afterwards -- BNY staff couldn't use the facilities even though the building was not hit directly). The WTC was a big, symbolic target, and kills lots of people in the process. That's why it was chosen, along with the Pentagon. After all, if they wanted tall buildings the Sears Tower is bigger (but I have met few foreigners who have heard of the thing).

More to the point, the strategy they used was prefigured to some degree in the film "Die Hard II" and even the original objections to building the WTC. Hijack plane, drive into building. The effectiveness is its simplicity.

But I digress. I was also pointing out that even when communications go down, the US military trusts its people enough (I hope!) to do what needs to be done as it happens. I mean, it isn't like they will be unable to communicate at all-- real-time is a great asset, and I agree completely that it had a big effect on the conduct of the war. But we wouldn't be reduced to carrier pigeons and ship-carried letters. Our armies operated with remarkable (to me) precision in past wars with ordinary radio links. I did not say satellites were completely useless-- only that the Army probably has ways to operate without them. Would there be more civillian casualties, etc? yup. But that is also another issue to discuss.

As for accuracy of bombardments, I was going by what the Army puts out in its PR material and the interviews I have done with a few WWII Navy vets (had to do a 50th anniversary story some years back). They all said that from a few miles away a battleship could lob a shell and be within a few dozen yards, and they lobbed a lot and blew the heck out of whatever was there. Worked then, no reason it can't work now. Obviously, with better technology you don't need to do that, as you pointed out. what you pointed out was the imprecision of some aerial bombing, and that was certainly true.

I am hardly a utopian, but i think it significant that the Germans, however horrible the Nazis were (and they top my list), did not drop mustard gas on London in WWII. Nor did we do so to Berlin. The Iraquis didn't do it either. [/i]Something was and is stopping them. What? (I know that Iraq tried using chemical weapons on the Iranians and the Kurds. But that stood out precisely because it was so unusual).

I do agree with you, by the way, that people might be reading too much into the intentions of the US government. I mean saying a country will defend its interests is a no-brainer.

Again, on the PanAmSat thing -- I talked to PanAmSat at the time, and they were unhappy u of the financial losses. But the telecom companies seemed sanguine, even nonchalant. The Satellite TV people -- DirectTV et al. -- were really, really unhappy, but the banks I talk to now (I cover banking systems) have never once mentioned the need for satellite links. Securities Industry Automation Corporation (which carries most of the transaction traffic) uses fiber. (Sept. 11 did make clear to them that one node is too few, and it should not be located in lower Manhattan. They say they have fixed that-- I suppose we'll see about that).

Archer17
2003-Jun-14, 04:24 AM
..

sarongsong
2003-Jun-14, 05:26 AM
Perhaps you'd like some glycyrrhizin for dessert?

Archer17
2003-Jun-14, 06:17 AM
..

sarongsong
2003-Jun-14, 05:00 PM
"Martian plantlife?" http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=5822
contains no sarcasm on my part, nor do any of my posts contain a mis-spelled word. Miles Davis once told me, "When you don't know what to say, don't say nothin' ".
I accept your apology.[/img]

Stuart
2003-Jun-16, 03:58 PM
I was just saying that military budgets are based on a set of assumptions that are based on what the politicians ask for (it is their job) what the military knows it can do (their job is, I would hope to tell political leaders what is realistic) and whatever budgets get approved. This is affected by local politics and all that other stuff that goes with being in a modern society.
No, you were criticiizing the level of the US defense budget on the grounds that it was several multiples higher than other nations. I'm trying to point out that the level of the US defense budget is set by US defense commitments and what other nations spend is monumentally irrelevent.


Like I said, I disagree with the assumptions, primarily because I don't think there are any countries out there that are going to land a million soldiers in San Fran and take it. Or even lob a nuke at it unless they have all gone completely nuts. Not that it doesn't happen, plenty of leaders out there are pretty off-kilter in a lot of ways. Look at Saudi Arabia -- an Islamic theocracy/monarchy with lots of money. Those guys scare me.

So far this millenium we've had three serious threats to use nuclear weapons on US cities. By serious threats I mean actual threats to use from nations that have such things - or are strongly believed to do so. I'm trying to get over that what you're airly dismissing as unlikely is already happening. The fact that you dismiss such things shows how little you know about them. Did you know, for example, that in 1994 we were within seven minutes of being on the receiving end of a Russian nuclear strike? Or that North Korea fired an IRBM OVER Japan?


As to military strategy, it seems to me that there is a remarkable continuity between "shock and awe" and a massive bombing campaign, and carpet bpmbing cities as was done previously. One is more precise, but it isn't like the use of air power is all that different.

Again, this shows how little you understand about what was actually happening. In 1945 one fine night the air-raid sirens went off in Tokyo. A US raid was inbound. A big one, but not the largest known. The only difference was the aircraft were flying rather lower than usual. The raid started with large high explosive bombs that were dropped to pin down the firefighters. These were followed by torrents of incendiaries. Each B-29 was assigned a very precise target box to saturate with incendiaries. The pattern of the raid was a rectangle, the significance of which became apparent later. Japanese doctrine was for householders to stand and fight the fires. That order doomed the population of Tokyo. As the fires spread they started to draw air in from outside; that air was superheated and rose skywards. More air was sucked in to take its place - that caused the fires to burn hotter, increasing the amount of air going up. That increased the speed of the winds blowing in, making the fires burn still hotter. The smarter people started to run at that point. Most people stuck with what the government said and stayed put. The winds reached up to 200 miles per hour. Some firefighters were swept off their feet into the flames, others exploded into flame themselves, ignited by radiant heat. Some took cover in concrete bunkers to be roasted others too cover in rivers and lakes - and were poached alive. One swimming pool where people took cover was found with piles of bodies 12 deep in it. All fused into eachother. The smarter people, the ones who gave up and ran died as well - the fires blocked all the streets and there was no way out. Overhead the B-29s gleamed silver in the moonlight as they cruised above the burning city, pouring more incendiaries into the inferno. 800 B-29s killed 150,000 people in Tokyo that night. Then they repeated the dose on Yokohama, Niigata, Harima, Ehime, Sasebo, Tamano, Maizuru, Uraga, Shimonoseki, Kanagawa, Mihoro, Tsurumi and finally, of course at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By August 1945 there was precisely one Japanese city left that hadn't been incinerated - and that was scheduled for atomic bomb number three. But back to Tokyo - 800 sorties, 150,000 dead using aircraft that carried that carried six tons of bombs each. We threw 8,000 sorties at Baghdad, some using aircraft that carried 40 tons of bombs each and we killed 58 people. Just imagine what the death toll would have been like if we did do use the same strategy as 1945. Millions dead? tens of millions? Easily. If you believe that the bombing strategy used over Baghdad had any realtionship to that used in 1945 then you are only betraying your total ignorance of what was actually going on. There is, quote literally, nothing in common between the two.


You still got to bomb these guys and blow up tanks and whatnot, and you still have to shoot somebody. The old archers in Agincourt mowed down the French with arrows, and that looked remarkably similar to World War I -- different firepower (orders of magnitude greater) and different politics. But darn it, looks to me like the the same thing happens. Guys walk up, get shot down by the dozens every minute. Except in WWI they used trenches to jump out of. Call me ignorant, but that's what it looks like to me. I wasn't saying that the strategies don't change at all, merely that in modern warfare there are some remarkable continuities like that.
You said it not me, all you do here is betray how hopelessly little you understand of any of this area. You have no conception of what a military is or does. Put bluntly, you're talking nonsense - or, to be more charitable, you're saying things that are so grotesquely over-simplified that they are devoid of any meaning. Its the equivalent of saying "some things are like other things but others are not"


As for the World Trade Center, if someone wanted to really shut down the US financial system, they would have been better off flying into the Bank of New York, Chase, and the NYSE. (The BNY and Chase are the only clearers of government debt, which is why the bond markets shut down for so long afterwards -- BNY staff couldn't use the facilities even though the building was not hit directly).
So would I- but I'm not Osama bin Laden who understands almost nothing about the world outside his own little niche. His assumption was that destroying the WTC would blow the bottom out of the US economy; he also believed that destroying the Pentagon would cripple the US military. He did not understand what he was dealing with - that din't stop him trying to launch a devastating and carefully-co-ordinated attack (that included, by the way, actions in four countries, two of which failed). The point is that people do come up with fiendish and complicated schemes.


But I digress. I was also pointing out that even when communications go down, the US military trusts its people enough (I hope!) to do what needs to be done as it happens. I mean, it isn't like they will be unable to communicate at all-- real-time is a great asset, and I agree completely that it had a big effect on the conduct of the war.

Utterly irrelevent. Again, you're exposing how little you understand of how an army operates or what makes it fight. There's something called C4I (Computerized Command, Control, and Intelligence) that you need to study.


But we wouldn't be reduced to carrier pigeons and ship-carried letters. Our armies operated with remarkable (to me) precision in past wars with ordinary radio links. I did not say satellites were completely useless-- only that the Army probably has ways to operate without them. Would there be more civillian casualties, etc? yup. But that is also another issue to discuss.
Its only remarkable to you because you don't understand how an army operates (or a navy or an air force). The US military today CANNOT - repeat CANNOT operate with the C4I technology it had as late as the 1980s. If you have a glimmering of understanding of such things, you would realise how impossibly far from the truth your assumptions are.


As for accuracy of bombardments, I was going by what the Army puts out in its PR material and the interviews I have done with a few WWII Navy vets (had to do a 50th anniversary story some years back). They all said that from a few miles away a battleship could lob a shell and be within a few dozen yards, and they lobbed a lot and blew the heck out of whatever was there. Worked then, no reason it can't work now.
Only it didn't work then. You're taking isolated pieces of information out of context because you don't have the basic knowledge necessary to understand what it is you're hearing.


Obviously, with better technology you don't need to do that, as you pointed out. what you pointed out was the imprecision of some aerial bombing, and that was certainly true.
And artillery bombardments - and naval bombardments. The hit rate of naval guns in WW2 was around 2 percent. In 1943, the US Navy bombarded a little island called Tarawa (800 meters long, 400 wide) for seven days inclduing battleships, cruisers, airstrikes and destroyers that closed in to 500 yards from the beach. As far as can be determined, they didn't kill a single defender. Just remember the Russians bombardment before the assault on Berlin, 41,500 guns, 20 million rounds of ammunition. The Germans nearly stopped them - they came precious close to stopping Zhukov but Koniev (with more guns and more ammunition) broke through to the south..


I am hardly a utopian, but i think it significant that the Germans, however horrible the Nazis were (and they top my list), did not drop mustard gas on London in WWII. Nor did we do so to Berlin. The Iraquis didn't do it either. [/i]Something[i] was and is stopping them. What?
Nuclear weapons. It is US policy that any use of weapons of mass destruction against us will bring about retaliation by all available national means. That means we reduce the nation that did it to a radioactive parking lot. Flat, black and it glows in the dark. And nobody's joking. We're setting the world an example all right. Do it and you die. The only example setting thats worth the effort.


Again, on the PanAmSat thing -- I talked to PanAmSat at the time, and they were unhappy u of the financial losses. But the telecom companies seemed sanguine, even nonchalant.
Bully for them. They obviously have a well-turned brave face. Now take down all of the satellites permanently and lets see how they grin. I don't depend on PR flacks for information; I know exactly what the impact of losing the satellites on the US economy would be - and it isn't pretty. The subject has been extensively analysed by people who know what they are talking about - not PR guys pushing polyanna propaganda.

I don't want to push this further since this board is neither the time nore the place. However, I want to make it clear that if you wish to form an opinion on these things, you're going to have to learn a lot more about how and why things work the way they do. Its information you painfully obviously don't have. In Bad Astronomy terms you're arguing that man couldn't have gone to the moon because the Apollo rocket didn't hold enough gunpowder to get him there.

Rockmotteller
2003-Jun-18, 06:37 PM
Wow, Stuart! I'm very impressed by your knowledge and the reasoned and reasonably polite way in which you present it. I happen to agree with almost everything you have said in this thread, and its nice to find someone who can muster the facts and arguments with such apparent ease (as I could never do).

I'm also surprised to find this sort of discussion, so expertly discussed, on an astronomy board. I frequent some boards dedicated to this sort of topic, and your username and the character of your posts make me wonder if you may be known in "real life" as Stuart Slade? Don't answer that if you don't want to, of course.

Cheers!

sarongsong
2003-Jul-15, 04:51 AM
Pretty good update article:
"...The Air Force began a program this year called the Operationally Responsive Spacelift initiative. The goal of that program is to pave the way for reusable rockets that could be launched at a low cost on short notice...the Air Force has yet to conduct its own manned spaceflight operations. The first program designed to place military personnel in space ó the Manned Orbiting Laboratory ó was canceled in the 1960s..."
http://www.space.com/spacenews/spacenews_businessmonday_030714a.html

mike alexander
2003-Jul-15, 05:24 PM
Can I play the naive guy? Something I'm good at.

In the Encyclopedia Galactica's entry on Trantor (I just KNEW all that SF reading would come in handy some day) it is noted that as Trantor became more and more specialized and indespensible it became a greater and greater prize. Imperial policy became one of protecting Trantor at all costs.

It struck me that the destruction of the WTC did not cause general economic pandemonium because of the many layers of redundancy and diversification of economic records storage and communication available. We just routed around the damaged sector. A massive blow at a particular essential site could not be fatal because there was NO particular essential site.

Now, earth orbit is a wonderful place to do certain things. Having a broadcasting tower 22K miles high gives great coverage. It also makes the tower a tempting target. GPS is truly wonderful in terms of open access, but it just sits there waiting to be shot at in bad times (or, equivalently, the signals can be jammed at point-of use). Comsats route information all around effortlessly and conveniently but can be relatively easily destroyed if someone really wants to. In other words, we are working with essential sites.

Use of space-based ComConComm is great because it is SO convenient, fast and universal. But it is also potentially very vulnerable. So we can go in the direction of defending the uplink at all costs or, alternatively, have redundant and independent backup systems available. Perhaps not as fast and as accurate, but more than sufficient to to the job.

I have worried for some time that planning seems to depend on these root space systems being there and working. It may be a measure of my ignorance (and I would be relieved to be enlightened) but I do not find the current system reassuring. Many of the preceding comments on this thread only reinforce this feeling; higher-tech defenses for the high-tech links. What, for example, are the current alternatives to GPS?

A last melancholy note. As a species we really seem to be stuck on nationalism, aren't we? In Richard McKenna's book The Sand Pebbles he gives Jake Holman the thought line: We choose up sides and kill each other.

Perhaps this thread answers Fermi's Paradox.

Stuart
2003-Jul-15, 06:44 PM
It struck me that the destruction of the WTC did not cause general economic pandemonium because of the many layers of redundancy and diversification of economic records storage and communication available. We just routed around the damaged sector. A massive blow at a particular essential site could not be fatal because there was NO particular essential site.
This is indeed so; something that Osama Bin Laden never quite understood. Most Arab countries are highly centralized - take out the capital and there's virtually nothing left - with very little redundancy. We could, for example, eliminate Saudi Arabia as a society with five properly-placed nuclear weapons. So Osama, in his innocence, assumed that the US was the same and that its economy could be derailed by a swift kick in the right place. By the way, he was only partially wrong - the destruction of the WTC did hurt but only enough to get us mad, not enough to cripple us. However, there is a sinister thought to this; the modern US doctrine of netcentric warfare is also predicated around kicking out the center of gravity (ies) from a society. What if such things don't actually exist?


Now, earth orbit is a wonderful place to do certain things. Having a broadcasting tower 22K miles high gives great coverage. It also makes the tower a tempting target. GPS is truly wonderful in terms of open access, but it just sits there waiting to be shot at in bad times (or, equivalently, the signals can be jammed at point-of use). Comsats route information all around effortlessly and conveniently but can be relatively easily destroyed if someone really wants to. In other words, we are working with essential sites.
My point exactly; the way the US fights wars today is utterly dependent on a functioning satellite net. We took Iraq down so fast entirely due to satellite-provided navigation, communications, target data, control and datalinks, even meteorological data. Look on the masthead of a warship and one of the most prominant antennas is for receiving live satellite weather imagery. Its that important. The Great Sandstorm didn't cripple US forces because we knew it was coming two days before it arrived.


Use of space-based ComConComm is great because it is SO convenient, fast and universal. But it is also potentially very vulnerable. So we can go in the direction of defending the uplink at all costs or, alternatively, have redundant and independent backup systems available. Perhaps not as fast and as accurate, but more than sufficient to to the job.

Fast launch of replacements is one of them - not all our missiles had nuclear warheads. There are others but the loss of satellites would be a terrible blow


I have worried for some time that planning seems to depend on these root space systems being there and working. It may be a measure of my ignorance (and I would be relieved to be enlightened) but I do not find the current system reassuring. Many of the preceding comments on this thread only reinforce this feeling; higher-tech defenses for the high-tech links. What, for example, are the current alternatives to GPS?
Nobody in The Business finds it reassuring either. I won't say we stay awake nights worrying over it but it IS a matter of grave concern. Defending (both actively and passively) the satellite net is a national priority.


A last melancholy note. As a species we really seem to be stuck on nationalism, aren't we? In Richard McKenna's book The Sand Pebbles he gives Jake Holman the thought line: We choose up sides and kill each other.
Yup. Still that's the world we have. We have to live with what is, not the way we would like it to be.

Perhaps this thread answers Fermi's Paradox.[/quote]

sarongsong
2003-Jul-19, 04:44 AM
"...7/18/03 This was the third launch of an Atlas 5, which made its debut 11 months ago. It is one of two new heavy-lift rockets, along with Boeing Co's Delta 4, sponsored by the U.S. Air Force..."
http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/space/07/18/atlas.launch.reut/index.html
Don't recall seeing this "sponsored by the U.S. Air Force" phrase before---is it something new?